Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's Pattern of Destruction

I was always fascinated (and totally nauseated) that LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was able to both appear and participate in court in the morning -- ya know, for the whole being accused of rape thing in 2003, no biggie -- then travel to play a basketball game the same night, play it well, and then return to court, sometimes the next day.

He may be a sleazeball motherf'er who should never have been allowed to touch a professional basketball court with a 10-foot pole while the justice system tried to figure what the hell to do with his sick ass, but alas, he was given the green light to multi-task: sexual assault court and basketball court all at the same time. Awesome. I said it then and I'll say it now, if the guy knows how to do one thing well (clue: it ain't monogamy) it's to take the discomfort in his personal life and put it into the game.

But that was 2003, and this is 2011. Though as far as Kobe goes -- shocker, nothing's changed. He's still in the headlines for being a home-wrecker and his wife Vanessa, along with her dusty four million dollar I'm sorry I screwed someone else, but don't worry, I didn't rape her ring, is joining him.

This time it's not Kobe's home on the chopping block of wreckage though, and it's not Karl Malone's or Shaquille O'Neal's either. It's Laker's center, Pau Gasol. Poor guy.

gasolLopez.jpgThe gossip is that Gasol's recent breakup is what threw the 7-foot-tall player's game off during the Western Conference Semi-Finals, landing the Lakers on the wrong side of a 4-0 sweep against the Dallas Mavericks, and knocking them out of the playoffs. Everyone loves a great blame game.

The thing is, I could care less about the LA Lakers winning or losing (sorry, I'm a Detroit sports fan). And I could also care less about the gossip and drama and the he said/she said that's currently giving Lakers fans a way to rationalize the loss. My interest in the details of any story simply perks up when there's a pattern. I love patterns. And the Bryants are part of a major pattern. And here it is...

First: Kobe not only cheats on Vanessa, but is accused of rape. Holy crap. Likely not the first time he's cheated, but the first time it's on the news and the first time there's nowhere to run. Being a public figure has its downside.

Then: During interviews for the investigation, Kobe throws teammate Shaquille O'Neal under a bus, exposing him for cheating on his wife and paying off the women to keep quiet. Wow. Cheating -- both Shaq and Kobe -- low rent for sure. Telling the press that your friend cheated just to distract people from thinking you're the only douche-bag on the Lakers? Double low rent. And the pattern of making others look bad to distract yourself from having to look at your own life begins.

Shortly after the affair, trial, and decision to stay married, Vanessa Bryant called co-Lakers wife Kay Malone to tell her that her husband, Karl Malone, an LA Laker at the time, had made an inappropriate pass at her. We don't know what really happened, whether Karl was flirtatious or not, but creating a press frenzy around someone else's husband being a dirtbag is an amazing way to make yourself feel better about the dirtbag you're sharing a bed with. Rock on, Vanessa. And the pattern continues.

I can almost bet there have been more behind the scenes stories throughout the years of Vanessa and Kobe doing a killer job of making their marriage seem less jacked up by using other people's relationships as bait. But, exciting for me, their pattern is back in the news. Case in point, Pau Gasol's love life.

According to many of the 919,000 articles that came up when I googled "Pau Gasol's breakup," Vanessa Bryant expressed some convincing words to Sylvia Lopez Castro, Pau Gasol's ex-fiancée, causing her to end the relationship. The result? The Lakers fans had a sad and heart-broken guy to blame for the losing streak, and Vanessa was sitting pretty with yet another example of why her own relationship is so not that bad.

Yes, misery loves company -- though it doesn't seem to love the Lakers. Misery also, when totally denied and suppressed, as it seems to be with Kobe and Vanessa, has a way of creeping out onto the rest of the world in an ugly way. Or, in a totally soap opera-ish kind of way. Take your pick, the Bryants seem to be interested in both.

So, be mindful of your misery, take responsibility for your issues and for your emotions, and catch yourself when you're vomiting your stuff onto everyone else. Because eventually the pattern will be all too clear, and someone will call you on it. And then the only one off their game...will be you. Cheers.

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